Appointments, a homecoming and a Fiesta!Conversations with Nicole Thursday, June 23rd, 2011
Commentary: Conversations with Nicole
Yes, someone hacked into my email while I was out of town. We are trying to fix it.
Three days in our state capitol
I just got back from three days in Sacramento, full of meetings, dinners, receptions, etc. I’ll give you a full report in my next column, but it was great to see and talk with Assembly Speaker John Perez (great leader), Senator Mark Leno (he’s the best), Minority Whip Assemblywoman Toni Atkins (always the same – a woman of the people), Senator Juan Vargas (our next congressman), Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher (California’s favorite Republican), Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (he of everyone reminds me of Harvey Milk with his quick humor), Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (coming to our Pride and hopefully going to congress), Assemblyman Marty Block (front-runner for the state Senate), Assemblyman Ben Hueso (doing a great job) and others.
Special thank you to Sacramento businessman Terry Sidie who hosted me during my stay.
Our growing homeless crisis
Last week, the City Commission that I serve on got a full report on our city’s growing homeless problem which affects almost all of our neighborhoods. In the city of San Diego, there are about 6,000 homeless people and the most are in the 3rd District. Almost 18 percent are veterans, 24 percent are women and so many are children. There are only 85 beds locally for homeless youth and there is a growing HIV/AIDS homeless population. It actually costs San Diegans millions of dollars more to have homeless on the streets than in a shelter.
Thank God there are dedicated community leaders involved in this issue like former city councilman and now Commissioner Brian Maienschein, the executive director of the Regional Task Force on the homeless, Peter Callstrom and Sgt. Richard Schnell of the police department’s homeless outreach team. This is a problem that is not going away and it is time it became a priority.
Supervisor Roberts appoints Abrams and Lechner
Since his days on the City Council, County Supervisor Ron Roberts has built a solid record of appointing minorities, especially people of color, to government boards and commissions. Many times he has made history as in his appointments of Bob Lehman and Ben F. Dillingham to the county veterans’ board.
This week Roberts informed me of his appointments of Atty. Bruce Abrams and Frank Lechner to two county commissions/boards.
Abrams is a well known and respected civic leader with roots in the Jewish and GLBT communities and has served on the Foundation for Change, Equality California, NGLTF, ACLU and numerous social service and social justice causes and received countless honors and awards. Frank Lechner has lived in San Diego for over 38 years and has served on the board of The Center, GSDBA, AIDS Foundation, GMSR/Calif., FilmOut, etc.
Congratulations to our new county officials and thank you Ron Roberts for your decades of support for the diversity of our county.
San Diego trailblazer returns
One of San Diego’s GLBT trailblazers and leaders has returned after living back east for a long while. Yes, the founder of our annual AIDS Walk San Diego, lesbian Republican Susan Jester!
She was a major leader during the AIDS crisis and served on the founding board of the AIDS Assistance Fund. Susan Jester was also one of the first openly gay mayoral appointees (by then Mayor Roger Hedgecock) and served as the first lesbian president of the Log Cabin Republican Club. Our first AIDS Walk (1985) was called “Walks for Life” and about 1,500 people showed up on Pacific Highway. Then County Supervisor Susan Golding, Dynasty TV star Gordon Thompson and myself were keynote speakers. Susan raised a lot of money for many LGBT organizations and AIDS agencies.
Following Susan Jester as executive director of “Walks for Life/AIDS Walk San Diego” were the late Gary Reese and Albert Bell, both who died of AIDS. Our first AIDS Walk was picketed by radical right wing Christians, and many of us were called names and cursed at while we walked by passing cars.
Word is that at this year’s AIDS Walk (Sept. 25) Susan Jester will be recognized for her years of leadership and community service. Welcome home, Susan!
Lunch with Lorena Gonzalez
Last week, I had lunch with the executive director of the Labor Council of San Diego and Imperial counties, Lorena Gonzalez and the president of the SEIU/local 221, yes Eric Banks. These are difficult times for all working families and unions as the radical right wing have been trying their best to destroy the rights of our country’s working people. The same radical right that is leading the attack on gay marriage, Planned Parenthood and undocumented workers. It is important that we support each other and build stronger ties as separated they get us one by one, but together we are one powerful “kickass” coalition.
Frida Fiesta this Saturday!
Proudly one of the biggest and best Latino party/dance fiestas of the year is coming up this Saturday from 6-10 p.m. when hundreds of Latinos will jam The Center for tacos, Tequila and dancing! And you are all invited. There will be that hot Latin band (Latin Imagine) and popular DJ La Voz. So, see you all at the Frida fiesta this Saturday, Ole!
Nicole Murray Ramirez has been an award-winning columnist since 1973, and a Latino and gay activist for well over 40 years. He is currently a City Commissioner and has served the last five mayors of San Diego. He is also a national board member of the Harvey Milk Foundation and Chairman of the International Court Council of the USA, Canada and Mexico. Nicolemrsd@aol.com.
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